September 2, 2006

Saints Make More Moves, Day After Final Cuts

Five more cut, including Bouman; five added including former Cowboys starter T Pettiti.


A day after the 53-man roster was set and a total of 22 moves over two days were announced, the Saints picked up five players from other clubs off the waiver wire and signed four others to the practice squad.

WR Terrance Copper (6-0, 207, Dallas), DB Curtis Deloatch (6-2, 210, N.Y. Giants), DB DeJuan Groce (5-10, 192, St. Louis), DE Michael Haynes (6-4, 283, Chicago) and T Rob Pettiti (6-6, 327 pounds, Dallas) were all assigned to the Saints after the club claimed them on Sunday.

To make room for the five new players, the Saints terminated the veteran contracts of QB Todd Bouman and DE Tony Bryant, waived DB Anwar Phillips and T Ben Archibald and waived/injured WR Bethel Johnson.

The volatile and fluid practice squad is likely to have wholesale changes every week, many of which will go unreported. To start, the Saints have filled thier their eight-man practice squad with: RB Jamaal Branch, LB E.J. Kuale, WR Chase Lyman, DT Brandon Villarreal, DE Eric Moore, DE Scott Scharff, QB Jason Fife. One spot remains reportedly open.

NOPF Analysis

The Saints will apparently go with two quarterbacks to start the season. Adrian McPherson was cut on Saturday and Todd Bouman was cut on Sunday. The move is somewhat risky: the Saints are left with Drew Brees, coming off a shoulder injury but otherwise sturdy, and veteran Jamie Martin, who hasn't played enough in his long career to record and injury history. The Saints can still designate someone as the #3 quarterback each Sunday.

Rookie safety Roman Harper played some quarterback in high school, as did thirteen year veteran Jay Bellamy. WR Joe Horn also played some quarterback at Douglas Byrd high school in Fayetteville, NC.

The Saints reached an injury settlement with Bethel Johnson, releasing him and all traces to the failed Jonathan Sullivan experiment. In his place arrives former Dallas receiver Terrance Copper, who had two catches for 32 yards against the Saints in preseason week two. Copper, 6'0, 201, arrived in Dallas as an undrafted rookie an worked his way onto the practice squad and eventually the regular roster in 2004. He had eight catches for 89 yards and one touchdown in two seasons as a reserve player for the Cowboys, playing for head coach Sean Payton the past two seasons when Payton was the offensive coordinator. Copper, a product of East Carolina, is fast but needs to work on his route running and add muscle.

DE Tony Bryant, a solid backup at defensive tackle and end and a special teamer, was released after making a return to the NFL with the Saints after a football-related serious neck injury. It was Bryant that blocked a last-second field goal at the end of the 2004 season to clinch a win over the Panthers and a four-game win streak. Arriving in his place is former Penn State product who was the 14th overall pick of the Bears in 2003. The 6'4, 280 pound end was cut by the Bears after failing to live up to expectations. Six other NFL teams put in waiver claims for Haynes, but the Saints were highest on the waiver list. Five and a half sacks in three years is not what the Bears had in mind for Haynes, who worked his way into Lovie Smith's doghouse and was inactive for five games and the playoffs last season for the Bears. Haynes didn't fit Smith's 4-3 style, which asks defensive ends to be light and fast, like current starter Alex Brown. So the Bears moved Haynes inside to defensive tackle, where he lacks bulk to play against the run. Haynes was in a way then set up to fail inside and was cut with the final roster ax in Chicago.

T Rob Pettiti arrives in place of Ben Archibald, who played second string left tackle throughout the preseason. Pettiti is a monster- six foot six and 330 pounds and very strong, and he used his strength to become a standout left tackle for Pitt. A sixth round pick, Pettiti ended up starting all 16 games as a rookie but constantly needed help in pass protection. Nevertheless he was slated to start at right tackle this season after being thought very highly of, but he continued to struggle with mental errors and technique problems. Pettiti also has experience working for Sean Payton in Dallas.

Cornerbacks Curtis DeLoatch and Dejuan Groce arrive on the final roster, while undrafted rookie Anwar Phillips leaves the active roster for now. Phillips, one of four rookie cornerbacks on the training camp roster for the Saints, is the last to leave, as all were cut. DeLoatch, 25 and Groce, 26, are a pair of young, experienced cornerbacks from the Giants and Rams, respectively.

DeLoatch is a big, 6'2, 205 pound cornerback who possesses great athletic ability but is raw. He had a breakout season in 2005, recording 55 tackles and an interception but too often beaten and victimized by opposing receivers. Out of North Carolina A&T, DeLoatch was a teammate of current Saints receiver Jamal Jones and both were key players in the Aggies' 10-2 run. Jones was the leading receiver, while DeLoatch was the punt returner and team leader in interceptions and pass breakups. He was cut in the final roster trim yesterday.

Groce, the former Nebraska standout, started games in each of his three seasons for the Rams, including 15 games last season, missing one game with injury. Groce recorded seven tackles and two pass breakups against the Saints in 2005. Groce began the season as a starter in 2004 before playing through an injury and losing his starting job in October. Groce had been limited by a hamstring injury this preseason and was actually waived by the Rams with an injury settlement. Groce will have to pass a physical with the Saints. Groce played under Joe Vitt in St. Louis.

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